Sunday’s EA Play Press Conference for E3 2016 didn’t have much to show on the Star Wars gaming front, but Monday night’s Sony PlayStation Conference pulled back a tiny corner of the veil. The above video is the extent of footage released for Criterion’s Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission, which takes you to space (a first in the revamped series) for a VR dogfight against TIEs. In a post over at the PlayStation Blog, it’s revealed to be free (granted you have a PS4 and PS VR). Also during the conference, PlayStation fans were treated with the news they had exclusive (for the night) rights to the first demo of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which I tried out and have my impressions below, including screenshots and clips.
The demo level is titled “Niima Outpost” and covers a variety of the title’s gameplay, including new features like Blaster Battles and Multi-Builds, as well as the more ‘open’ vehicle sections. This level covers the part of the film where Rey, Finn, and BB-8 flee from the First Order on Jakku, leading right up until the part where Han and Chewie capture and board the Millennium Falcon. Overall the demo is a good indicator of how the formula hasn’t changed much if you’ve played a LEGO game before—smash everything in sight, build stuff, blow up stuff, build stuff to blow up, and collect bricks—but it shows that with the new features they are at least trying to vary things up. One of the minor additions is Multi-Builds, where you have the option to build more than one object from a pile of bricks. The demo’s Multi-Builds moments weren’t actually much of a choice, since you have to build both objects (separately) to solve different parts of a puzzle or two; Here’s hoping they have more usage than that in the full game. Another feature, which bolsters the game in the moment to moment gameplay, is having the full cast return as they provide new dialogue (it’s a true delight to hear more Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn) for what’s happening on the screen, instead of the characters staying quiet/grunting like previous games, though they still use voice clips from the movie.
First off, the Blaster Battles do change up the usual, basic combat by providing players with various targets and objectives. However, even after one encounter it already felt a little rote, as enemy waves keep coming and there’s nothing more for you to do than point and shoot. Switching cover, and likewise characters, is easy and intuitive, but since the game feels more like a sidescroller at this point the whole battle feels constricted. There’s a nice bit where players use BB-8 to take over a turret and clear out the bad guys, but other than that it was a relief for the battle to be over. Maybe later encounters will provide more challenge and variety to enemy types and behaviors, or allow for more movement along the battlefield, but for now Blaster Battles aren’t as exciting as I had hoped.
Vehicle combat isn’t just on-rails anymore (though it’s still included), as this game gives you some freedom to fly around a small, designated area. I had some issues with the controls initially, but once I got the hang of flying it was nice to be free, controlling the Falcon, and taking down First Order TIEs. Though short and simple, the vehicle part was a highlight of the demo and if these sections continue to deliver, I can only imagine what it’ll be like to play the moment where the Resistance comes to the rescue on Takodana. *cue John William’s March of the Resistance*
While the game was entertaining enough to play alone, the real joy of these games comes from playing with friends. And there will be plenty of content to enjoy, as the game as been previously announced to include brand new stories filling in background moments set around the film’s timeline. The game drops in two weeks, June 28 for pretty much any system currently available.
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